Algeria sink Niger to secure AFCON ticket

football27 March 2023 18:42| © Backpage TXT

Algeria booked their ticket to the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations finals with an uninspiring 1-0 victory over Niger at the Hammadi Agrebi Stadium in Tunis on Monday evening.

Baghdad Bounedjah broke the deadlock early on to register his 23rd goal for the Desert Warriors, who survived a late scare to maintain their 100 per cent record in Group F of qualifying to go eight points clear of Tanzania ahead of their clash with Uganda on Tuesday.

The Menas remain third in the group after collecting just two points from their opening four matches, leaving their qualification hopes hanging by a thread.

Belmadi decided to ring the changes for the away leg after a poor start in Algiers four days ago, with Moustapha Zeghba, Kevin Van Den Kerkhof, Mohamed Amine Tougai, Ramy Bensebaini and Jaouen Hadjam forming a completely new-look defence, while Ramiz Zerrouki, Fares Chaïbi and Bounedjah got the nod further upfield.

Zakariya Souleymane, Amadou Sabo and Zakari Lambo were brought in for the Menas, who were much happier with their performance last time out.

The North Africans got off to a flying start on this occasion as they hit the front after just six minutes, with Bounedjah beating Mahamdou Tanja from inside the box after being played in by Riyad Mahrez.

Algeria threatened again on the quarter-hour mark when Chaibi headed Van Den Kerkhof's cross wide of the left post but they looked shaky at the back and Hadjam in particular struggled to make any sort of impact on his debut at left-back.

Andy Delort was mostly anonymous up front and he failed to even test Tandja with a strike from inside the area on 34 minutes when presented with a chance.

Zeghba then pulled off a fine save on 42 minutes to keep out Sabo's deflected shot from the right side of the box as the Desert Warriors held onto their slender lead at the break.

The two-time Africans champions had the ball in the back of the net again on 54 minutes when Chaïbi converted Van Den Kerkhof's low cross at the back post but the goal was ruled out for offside, although replays indicated that the assistant referee had made the wrong call.

Bounedjah almost scored a second on the hour mark but Tandja was equal to the task this time around as he made a smart save to deny the striker from range.

The hosts had a rare sniff at goal in the 76th minute after a free-kick in a promising position, only for Rahim Alhassane to sky the effort.

Mohamed Amoura missed the target twice in the space of a minute in the closing stages, steering a header narrowly past the right post before firing wide of goal from the left side of the box.

Niger nearly snatched a dramatic late equaliser deep into stoppage time when Victorien Adebayor curled a free-kick inches wide of the left post from a free-kick, with Zeghba breathing a sigh of relief.

Niger 0

Algeria (1) 1 (Bounedjah 6')

Niger: M. Tandja, K. Doudou, O. Diabate, B. Katakore (A. Garba 46'), N. Yakubu, A. Sabo (V. Adebayor 83'), Z. Souleymane (O. Badamassi 83'), R. Alhassane (B. Hainikoye 87'), B. Moumouni, Z. Lambo (Y. Diori 22'), D. Sosah.

Algeria: M. Zeghba, M. Tougai, J. Hadjam, R. Zerrouki (A. Kadri 81'), I. Bennacer (N. Bentaleb 64'), F. Chaïbi, R. Mahrez (M. Amoura 74'), R. Bensebaini, K. Van Den Kerkhof, B. Bounedjah (Y. Belaili 64'), A. Delort (B. Bouanani 74').